Have you recently received a ticket? Or are you just looking to lower the premium on your auto insurance? You may be able to accomplish either by taking traffic school.
Traffic schools are also known as defensive driving courses, and as you might expect, they teach you defensive driving techniques that will help you avoid tickets and accidents. You'll also learn everything you need to know about California traffic laws, which can be a great refresher even if you think you know all the rules of the road already.
There are two main reasons drivers take traffic school: tickets and auto insurance.
If you've received a moving violation, then you may be able to get it dismissed from your driving record by taking traffic school. You'll still need to pay the ticket, but you can at least keep it off your record, which will prevent your auto insurance premium from increasing.
California also has a points system where moving violations are worth a certain number of points. If you accumulate 4 points in 1 year, 6 points in 2 years or 8 points in 3 years, then the DMV will consider you a negligent operator and may suspend your license for 6 months. By taking traffic school, you can keep these points from going on your record.
Going to traffic school can also lead to a discount on your California auto insurance rates, if you're taking it voluntarily and not due to a ticket. Insurance companies will typically offer a safe driver discount for completion of traffic school to young drivers who don't have much experience behind the wheel and drivers 55 years or older. There may be discount options available to other drivers, as well. The best way to find out if you qualify for various discounts in California is to call up your insurance company directly and ask them about it. For DUI related questions please refer to our in-depth article about getting SR22 insurance. It may be possible to get relatively cheap SR22 insurance California coverage by comparing your options.
Of course, traffic school also teaches you valuable skills and information. The defensive driving skills will make you a safer driver if you apply them correctly. While some of the information on traffic laws may be review for you, there may also be some laws that you didn't know about.
You can obviously take traffic school anytime you want in California. However, if you're taking it because of a ticket, then you need to make sure that you're eligible for it, otherwise it won't have any effect on your driving record.
Fortunately, most county courts will handle this part of the process for you, sending you a notice in the mail to let you know whether or not you're eligible for traffic school. This notice will also most likely provide a deadline for completing traffic school so it applies toward your ticket.
There are a few common eligibility requirements that you can expect for traffic school in California. You need a valid driver's license, and you must have been driving a non-commercial vehicle. The violation cannot be a misdemeanor or related to alcohol, as both are too severe for traffic school to dismiss. You'll also be ineligible for traffic school if you've already taken it for a previous ticket within the last 18 months, as the state doesn't provide unlimited opportunities to dismiss tickets via traffic school.
Each county court will have its own specific requirements, so you can look up eligibility requirements on your own with that court.
California has both online and classroom traffic school options. You can choose either one, unless the court requires you to attend an in-person course.
Each driving school will have its own course setup, but you can expect the entire course to take about 6 hours. Courses will go over defensive driving techniques, traffic laws in California, and general tips to improve your safety and responsibility behind the wheel.
Both online and classroom traffic schools will usually include a final exam that you must pass to successfully complete the course. As long as you were paying attention throughout the course, you should be able to pass the exam without too much difficulty.
After you successfully complete traffic school, the school will provide you with a certificate of completion. You can then submit this form to either the appropriate court or to your insurance company.
If you want to get more information on traffic school or find one near you, there are a few options available. You can contact the traffic court in the county where you received your ticket, or you can contact your insurance company. The California DMV will also be able to provide you with traffic school information. Another option is searching for traffic schools online, just make sure the one you choose is valid with the court or your insurance company.